CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- How many of us, if we caught a potential state-record fish, would let it go?
I'm not talking about a state-record carp, fallfish, bluegill or some other record no one really cares about. I'm talking about a record trout, bass, muskellunge or catfish.
People covet those records, and rare is the angler who would release a record-breaker.
Folks, meet Mark Clemishire.
Clemishire, 54, of Skiatook, Okla., caught and released a rainbow trout that, if measurements are correct, might have broken a state record by more than 2 pounds.
Fishing in Missouri's Lake Taneycomo, Clemishire hooked and landed the 31-inch fish on light fly fishing tackle after a 30-minute battle. He held the fish in the water to allow it to recover, lifted it long enough for his guide to snap a few photos, and turned it loose.
While Clemishire and his guide had the fish in their hands, they measured its girth as well as its length. Its girth taped out at a whopping 23 inches, as big around as a man's thigh. Using a widely accepted formula for estimating trout weights by length and girth, the two men later calculated that the big 'bow weighed 20 pounds, 8 ounces.
The existing Missouri record, held by a rainbow caught from the Roaring River in 2004, is 18 pounds, 1 ounce.
To claim a record, though, the state requires a fish to be weighed on certified scales. Clemishire wasn't willing to kill the fish just to get it weighed. He told a reporter for the Springfield News-Leader that in his younger days he might have been tempted to keep the giant rainbow, but not now.
"If I were 30 instead of 54 I probably would have weighed it at the hatchery and certified it," he said. "But after that fight he was still good and alive. If we had tried to weigh it, I think he would have died in my hands."